Adelaide, December 19
India captain Virat Kohli can’t remember a “worse batting performance” by his team than the lowest ever Test score of 36 against Australia here but at the same time, he has urged people not to “make mountain out of a molehill”.
He did speak about batsmen “lacking intent” to take forward the lead and although he didn’t take names, Mayank Agarwal’s approach (9 off 40 balls) in the morning was hard to explain when the team had a 62-run overnight advantage.
“I don’t think we have ever had a worse batting performance than this. So we can only go upwards from here and you will see guys stepping up and realising their true characters,” Kohli said in the post-match press conference after his team lost the first Test to Australia by eight wickets.
The Indian captain desperately tried but looked at pains to defend the indefensible – another inept overseas batting show with six successive scores of less than 250 just this year.
“It’s a strange one to be honest in my opinion. The ball didn’t do much but we didn’t have too much intent of going out there and taking the game forward,” he lamented.
“Everything happened so quickly that no one could make any sense of it,” Kohli was unable to fathom what hit his team.
Under Kohli, save the 2018 series in Australia, the Indian team has had way too many batting collapses, including six on the trot, starting with New Zealand early this year, but strangely the skipper felt there wasn’t anything alarming about it.
“I don’t think it’s alarming and we can very well sit here and make a mountain out of a molehill, it’s basically looking at things in the right perspective,” he reasoned.
In fact, there has been close to 15 innings in SENA countries (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) where the team has failed but the skipper could remember only six in 8-9 years.
“You have just spoken about five or six batting collapses in 8 to 9 years if I am not wrong. There will definitely be collapses again and again and we have to accept our mistakes and what we need to work on.
“This is not club level cricket and obviously there is a lot of pressure involved at different stages and as batsmen, we take pride in doing our job for the team. We are not vulnerable to getting out cheaply or vulnerable to a collapse,” the skipper asserted.
For Kohli, there is no point looking at the past and he only wants to think how plans can be re-laid.
“Rather than going into the past as to what has happened and let it linger on in future, I don’t think that’s productive at all.
“The team definitely doesn’t think like that and you learn from your mistakes and move forward.”
He, however, did acknowledge the strategic mistakes by his teammates.
“We played enough cricket to understand what needs to be done at different stages in a Test match. It’s just lack of executing a plan which is apt for that situation on Day 3,” he said.
“We arrived today with 9 wickets in hand. We should have definitely put in a stronger batting performance. I don’t think any mental fatigue is involved and I don’t think that’s a factor,” he ruled out the burnout aspect completely.
While Josh Hazlwood and Pat Cummins were brilliant in their lines and lengths, the skipper felt that they didn’t do anything different compared to the first innings.
“Look they bowled similar lengths in the first innings also. We were just better in terms of handling it and having a plan around it how to go about it.”
A lead of around 50 plus can always be tricky and that’s what happened, feels the skipper.
“A bit of a lead can always be tricky and as a batting unit, you can go into a headspace where you feel like you are just 50 or 60 ahead, you don’t want to lose early wickets so that the opposition comes at you.
“The way we batted allowed them to look more potent than they actually were in the morning to be honest because they bowled similar lengths. We batted way, way better in the first innings,” he explained.
Kohli admitted that once again, India let the Australian tail wag, allowing the home team to reach 191 from 111 for 7 at one stage with as many as four catches being dropped during the innings.
“It was very crucial. I think they were 7 down for 110 when Tim Paine offered a chance. Teams will not offer you opportunities again and again, you have to grab it when they come your way.
“Had we got a lead of 100 or more, and with a decent batting effort the opposition starts panicking, the target would have slowly move forward,” he said.
Kohli will go on paternity leave now to be with his actor wife Anushka Sharma for the birth of their first child. PTI